Poor old Jarvis has had a v. bad year, having struggled with debts and been walked out on by its top men. Here, its month-by-month misadventures are chronicled by Mark ‘Darcy’ Leftly …

Jarvis Diaries
Jarvis Diaries


Chief executives lost: 0 [v.g.]; profit warnings issued: 1 [things can only get better]; share price drop: 59.5p [eurgh]

He loves me; he loves me not … It’s not been the same since Paris left me those two long months ago. It’s very difficult to stop thinking about someone after nine years with them. Why did he go? Is he now flirting with the idea of being chief executive with someone else? Trying to hold up, convincing myself that I’m a contracting goddess: I won a specialist orthopaedics centre contract with the Department of Health. But I’m also forced to announce that I’m underperforming this year by about £12m [v. bad].


Number of main board directors left: 1 [all men are bastards …]; number of main board directors joined: 1 [… except for the cute ones]; share price drop: 14p [v. bad economy]

V. depressed. Men keep leaving me. Andrew Sutton, chief executive of my accommodation services division has packed his bags. Still, soon realise that men are easily replaceable: Rob Johnson takes over. Hope he will be knight in shining armour, but must realise that I have to stand on own two feet, so negotiate and receive monies owed from Network Rail. Goody.


Pieces of positive news from Network Rail: 1 [hurrah!]; profit warnings issued: 0 [v.g.]; share price rise: 42.5p [excellent]

Wake up in v. bad mood. Press keep gossiping about me. Forced to admit that I’m looking to shed at least 50% of my equity stake in Tube Lines consortium. Still, shuts them up. Gives rise to hope they might keep quiet for a while. Hopes lifted even further when cleared by Network Rail over allegations that I’d falsified rail stresses certificates on renewals work on the West Coast Main Line. Start to feel attractive again …


Main board directors lost: 1 [must improve]; number of preferred bidder appointments: 3 [excellent]; profit warnings: 1 [sure it’ll be the last one]; share price drop: 75.5p [unwarranted]

V.g. start. Men flocking to me. Andrew Lezala steps up from the rail business to the main board. He’s v. experienced, but nice to see he’s willing to experiment with a new position. Also preferred (ie most attractive) bidder on three education-related contracts. Then all goes wrong: have to post warning that the accommodation services division is to make £5m loss this year; money boss Robert Kendall resigns (though my finances now in v. capable hands of Alistair Rae – phew!); and accept liability with Network Rail for claims in respect of Potters Bar rail crash. Sorry, everyone.


Number of suitors: at least two [sure there are more]; profit warnings: 0 [much improved]; share price fall: 16p [bad]

What it’s like to be wanted! Those naughty Close Brothers want to take me over, but am more interested in the emergence of an American suitor, K Capital Partners. Goddess status confirmed when Chris Rew agrees to join non-exec board. Must sort out finances – talk to banks over renewal of banking facilities in March 2005 (note to self: flutter eyelashes).


Elections lost by chairman: 1 [oops!]; one-time knights-in-shining-armour lost: 1 [v. careless]; share price drop: 4.5p [must do better]

Woke up without hangover and immediately win two contracts worth £154m. V.g. My chairman Steven Norris less happy: he loses London mayoral election to Ken Livingstone. Silly Londoners – Steven’s bottom much cuter. At least it means he’ll stay with me: Robert Johnson walks out. Why do men promise to stay and then leave? All commitment-phobic idiots. Fortunately, former Skanska man Robert Wallace is available to take charge of my accommodation services. Have high hopes for him – v. accommodating!


Debt: £230m [what are students moaning about?]; profit warnings: 1 [total despair]; share price drop: 37.2p [acceptable in circumstances]

Fed up. Forced to issue yet another profit warning, despite good news that I’m going to receive £6.75m after selling my interest in Baltic Rail Services. Pleased with money so decide to check overdraft. V. silly idea: my debt’s risen by more than £100m to £230m. Banks being v. g. though – agree to back me despite £246.7m annual loss. Comes at a cost: naughty chief exec Kevin Hyde announces (embarrassingly publicly) that he’ll have to sell off some of my best bits to make ends meet.


Rumours of Paris philandering with other companies: many [v. depressing]; share price fall: 1.3p [better]

My entire shareholding in telephone mast subsidiary Ultramast is sold off. Despite being that bit more naked I’m seeming to turn people off: I’m no longer preferred on Fife council’s schools project. Hearing rumours that Paris has found himself another company … maybe even two. Try to convince myself that I’m better off without him. Fail.


Paris rumours confirmed: 1 [v.v. bad]; jealousy of company that has replaced me: 1023 [out of 10]; chief executives lost: 1 [bad but OK cos didn’t like his glasses]; share price fall: 5.7p [least of my worries]

Gaaah! Gaaah! Why me? I find out that Paris has indeed found himself another company, some smelly pooface that recycles waste. How can that trollop be more attractive to run than a major contractor comme moi? Hoped my current beau, Kevin, would take me in his arms once the news broke, but what does he do? Ups and leaves! Lowest ebb reached when Kirklees council removes me as preferred bidder on its schools contract. V. depressed.


Chief execs gained: 1 [excellent]; jealousy of Paris’ trollop: 9 [out of 10 ie less prone to bunny boiling retribution]; share price rise: 4.7p [light at end of tunnel]

Jarvis plc here … all-round contracting goddess with fine man in the saddle. Met a rather sporty chap called Alan Lovell who used to be chief exec at the Dunlop Slazenger Group but has now agreed to take me on.

V. excited. Must keep calm, but feeling giddy with all the attention – Andrew Lezala has agreed to be chief operating officer (which means that I have a successor lined up to get Alan on his toes!). Also, seem to have sorted out finances a little after signing heads of terms with Vinci to sell off my PFI bidding operations. Hurrah!


Profit warnings: 1 [bad]; French interest: rien [c’est une situation critique!]; share price: less than 10p [emergency!]

Rocky patch with Alan – he has found out the extent of my financial difficulties and told the whole world about them in a profit warning. Am probably neurotic, but worried he may not find me attractive any more. K Capital certainly doesn’t - their interest has waned and they have sold the majority of 25% stake in me. At least they’ve lost money in me. Ha! Feeling pinch: have had to make Bob Doyle and Richard Davies, heads of the roads and track renewals divisions, redundant. Sorry boys. Have also had to swap saucy French operator for German hunk – Vinci lost interest in my PFI bidding business, but Hochtief has snapped it up.

December (pre-Xmas)

Profit warnings: 0 [but my working capital problems laid bare]; disposals announced to stock exchange: 3 [v.g. prices, but all money goes to banks - v. bad]; hopes for 2005: 1 [survival]

Looks like it is going to be a bleak Christmas. Alan keeps pawning off some of my most sparkly items and insists I hold on to what I’ve already got – rail, roads, etc – rather than look for anything new. Hope Alan and I’s relationship can make it into 2005 …